30 January 2011
Why Women Should Not Be Assigned to Combat Positions
Throughout history, women have played a role in the defense of their nations. In 1429, Joan of Arc successfully led the French Army into battle against the English at age 17. In 1588, Queen Elizabeth I traveled to Tilbury, Essex to fight beside her Army during the Spanish raid. And in 1788 at the Battle of Monmouth, Mary Ludwig Hayes, also known as “Molly Pitcher”, took over her husband’s cannon position and continued to engage the enemy after he had fallen in battle. While these are extraordinary accomplishments made by these most admirable women, should this level of close combat be expected, or possibly even required of women in the military? Many will argue that the ban on women in combat is a discrimination issue, and that it creates a structural barrier that can hurt their chances of promotion or advancement. The Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services actually found that “women serving in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan have had a positive impact on mission accomplishment.” But these women were not assigned to an actual combat position in a unit that has a primary mission of direct ground combat engagement of the enemy. They were either assigned to a combat support unit that was engaged by the enemy, or they were attached to the combat arms unit. There is a vast difference, and this essay will explore why placing women in direct combat roles in the military would have a negative impact on combat readiness.
All male units in the field experience bonding that enhances readiness and cohesion. When women are introduced, men stop relating to each other and begin trying to attract the women. This puts them in direct competition with each other and becomes a severe distraction from the mission at hand. Morale cannot be maintained if accusations of harassment are a threat, and Commanders are unable to...